Mass spectrometric methods for monitoring redox processes in electrochemical cells

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Abstract

Electrochemistry (EC) is a mature scientific discipline aimed to study the movement of electrons in an oxidation–reduction reaction. EC covers techniques that use a measurement of potential, charge, or current to determine the concentration or the chemical reactivity of analytes. The electrical signal is directly converted into chemical information. For in-depth characterization of complex electrochemical reactions involving the formation of diverse intermediates, products and byproducts, EC is usually combined with other analytical techniques, and particularly the hyphenation of EC with mass spectrometry (MS) has found broad applicability. The analysis of gases and volatile intermediates and products formed at electrode surfaces is enabled by differential electrochemical mass spectrometry (DEMS). In DEMS an electrochemical cell is sampled with a membrane interface for electron ionization (EI)-MS. The chemical space amenable to EC/MS (i.e., bioorganic molecules including proteins, peptides, nucleic acids, and drugs) was significantly increased by employing electrospray ionization (ESI)-MS. In the simplest setup, the EC of the ESI process is used to analytical advantage. A limitation of this approach is, however, its inability to precisely control the electrochemical potential at the emitter electrode. Thus, particularly for studying mechanistic aspects of electrochemical processes, the hyphenation of discrete electrochemical cells with ESI-MS was found to be more appropriate. The analytical power of EC/ESI-MS can further be increased by integrating liquid chromatography (LC) as an additional dimension of separation. Chromatographic separation was found to be particularly useful to reduce the complexity of the sample submitted either to the EC cell or to ESI-MS. Thus, both EC/LC/ESI-MS and LC/EC/ESI-MS are common. © 2013 The Authors. Mass Spectrometry Reviews published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Mass Spec Rev 34:64–92, 2015

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